Tik Tok And Shopify: What Their European Partnership Means For Social Commerce

April 9, 2021

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Social commerce is changing the way people shop online, TikTok and Shopify have just signed a deal that could make buying over social the new norm...

In October of last year, Tik Tok and Shopify announced that they were joining forces to allow any merchants using Shopify’s technology to take advantage of a new medium by making any Tik Tok video they posted shoppable. According to press releases, that deal launched advertising tools which “allow merchants to create native, shareable content that turns their products into In-Feed video ads that will resonate with the Tik Tok community. Merchants will be able to target their audiences across gender, age, user behavior, and video category” and also to track the performance of their campaigns. Over 1 million American businesses had access to the program, which allowed brands to create shoppable content from a library of existing imagery and videos, enabling even the smallest of internet sellers to launch campaigns based on content optimized for social commerce.

Tik Tok currently has over 800 million users around the globe, and the recent expansion of the Shopify partnership will extend this social commerce opportunity to millions of businesses around the globe. In addition to the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the deal also includes Canada, Australia, and 7 other countries in Asia and the Middle East. 

This is huge news for the world of social commerce. As we’ve noted in previous posts, the bans on 3rd party cookies by Safari, Chrome, and Firefox have helped to push social commerce to the forefront of eCommerce marketing. While it’s no longer possible to track your users as they journey around the web, advertising on social media enables you to learn the demographic details and sales tracking figures that will boost conversion rates and dramatically improve your ROI. As tech giants and legislators in a host of countries move to protect the privacy of the individual, social commerce will soon be the best opportunity for brands looking to precisely target and re-target their campaigns and messaging.  

As Blake Chandlee, Vice President of Global Business Solutions at Tik Tok told TechCrunch: “As social commerce proliferates, retailers are recognizing that Tik Tok’s creative and highly engaged community sets it apart from other platforms. We’re constantly exploring new and innovative ways to connect brands with our users, and Shopify is the perfect partner to help us grow and expand our commerce capabilities.”

Tik Tok and Shopify are already beta-testing a host of new techniques for browsing in the app. They have also been experimenting with different formats for “Buy Now” buttons, different payment methods, links to the websites of brands and retailers, and shoppable hashtags. Tik Tok and Facebook appear to be in aggressive competition to take control of the growing social commerce market. Zuckerberg and his minions have been launching loads of shopping focussed updates across their platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. The future will be shoppable.

But Tik Tok is painting their shoppable platform as an opportunity for small businesses, start-ups, and even individuals to compete with the giants of eCommerce. With one click businesses can install the “Tik Tok Pixel”, a code which enables retailers to measure ad performance, constantly optimize their campaigns, and search for new customers in the app. Shopify has singled out a few UK brands which it claims are already benefiting from the new technology, including lingerie brand Lounge, West-African inspired Omolala Jewellery, and sustainable Scottish water filtration company Phox Water, among others.  

Press releases announcing the expansion of the Tik Tok/Shopify partnership have extolled the benefits of the merger for local economies. Tik Tok Europe Head of SMB’s Lisa Friedrich told reporters that 2020 saw retailers bring “energy, creativity and new ideas. They will be at the heart of future economic growth. This partnership will hopefully be a game-changer.” While Shopify’s Managing Director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa Shimona Mehta emphasised the rapidly evolving retail landscape, and touted shoppable Tik Tok ads as a way for small businesses to “build their brand, drive sales and create engaged communities [in a time of] immense change.” 

Social Commerce Is Poised For A Breakthrough

While these statements are an opportunity for firms to trot out their favourite PR buzzwords, there is some truth to the claim that this is going to be a real opportunity for small businesses. Although Amazon has total control of the dominant eCommerce sales platform, and often has an incentive to compete with successful retailers on a playing field that is far from level, social commerce could push us closer to a true meritocracy. Shoppable ads would drive more consumers to the web-pages and platforms of brands, rather than the all powerful intermediaries (like AliBaba and Amazon) who currently dominate the landscape. Likes and recommendations from trusted friends and influencers could soon become more valuable than traditional eCommerce marketing, which has been hobbled by the ban on 3rd party cookies. This new venture from Tik Tok and Shopify could portend a period of massive growth for social commerce.

Even though the pandemic has pushed most of our shopping online and social posts are inspiring more people to try new products than traditional ads, consumers have been slow to buy directly from social media sites. As a Facebook commissioned study reported, “only 18.7% of US social buyers said they paid for their most recent social purchase directly through a social app’s checkout process versus 57.8% who completed the transaction on the retailer’s website.” Instagram’s recently updated Checkout feature is an attempt to drive in-app sales, which grew by 25% year on year in 2020. eCommerce experts have called Facebook and Instagram’s payment platforms “clunky and disjointed” in the past, and we know eCommerce success often is created by convenience and destroyed by friction. 

As the big players in social media work feverishly to weave social commerce into the fabric of their apps and websites, this sector is likely to experience massive growth in the coming years! Live shopping events, easily shoppable video content, and the growing power of influencers will allow social media giants to challenge Amazon’s dominance of eCommerce. If your brand is looking to hop aboard the social commerce train before it leaves the station, get in touch with Adimo today!     


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